Board Spotlight: Mike Larson

Mike is the father of two sons, one a junior at Grand Rapids High School and one in his second year studying computer science at UMD. He has lived in Grand Rapids for over 20 years. Mike grew up in Minnesota and spent time in three other states early in his career. He supervises the wildlife research group at the MN Dept. of Natural Resources. Outside of work, Mike enjoys time outdoors—especially canoeing. His favorite tradition with them is going to the Boundary Waters every summer since they were young.

 What inspired you to be involved with United Way?
I have always been involved in the community and sought a new way to contribute. The United Way’s mission aligns very well with my core values.

What is the most rewarding thing you have taken from this experience?
I have seen so many people come together with a purpose for United Way events and initiatives, helping others and having fun. This community involvement highlights the United Way mission and unites our community in service.

What is one word you would use to sum up United Way’s work?
Community

What impresses you most about the Itasca Area?
The art – all of it! There is such a vast array available – children’s art in schools, public installations and murals, art galleries and local art displayed in businesses, dance and theatrical performances, and live music at various venues. It’s very impressive for a small community.

What is one thing about United Way that most people don’t know?
Most people don’t realize the direct and positive impact of their donations, which are magnified by the United Way leveraging other community resources, like coordinating volunteers and working with an extensive network of partners.

What advice would you give to a potential donor considering investing in United Way?
The United Way is thoughtful and strategic about achieving the most significant impact where it is most needed, especially in ways that support long-term improvement in people’s lives.